Smoky Mountain Invite 2024: How to Watch, Tournament Preview

The view from the Smokies this weekend should offer clarity among the bustling top-end of the men's division

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Just like that, we’re smack dab in the thick of the college season. The early season fog has burned away now that we have arrived at SMI: the view from the Smokies this weekend should offer clarity among the bustling top-end of the Men’s Division. Who will take the most advantage of a first crack at the champs? How will the western teams fare? Who stands to gain the most from a good weekend? Read on for our major thoughts heading into a major tournament.

Tournament Profile

  • Date: March 2-3
  • Location: Knoxville, TN
  • Weather: Mid-60s to low 70s, and potential rain on Saturday
  • Top 25 teams: 14 men’s division
  • Schedules & Results
  • Event Page

Streaming Schedule

All Ultiworld Standard and All-Access subscribers will have access to watch the live broadcasts from this year’s Stanford Invite, where we will have two games in each broadcasting round.

The broadcast schedule can be found below:

All times are ET.

Saturday, March 2

9:00 AM: Minnesota vs. Tufts [M] | Georgia vs. NC State [M]
10:45 AM: UNC vs. Carleton [M] | Vermont vs. Utah State [M]
12:30 PM: UMass vs. Pittsburgh [M] | UCLA vs. Colorado [M]
2:30 PM: Prequarter C2 vs. A3 [M] | Prequarter A2 vs. C3 [M]

Sunday, March 3

9:00 AM: Quarterfinal TBD [M] | Quarterfinal TBD [M]
11:00 AM: Semifinal TBD [M] | Semifinal TBD [M]
1:00 PM: Final TBD [M] | Third Place Final TBD [M]

UNC Darkside’s Matt McKnight against Brown Brownian Motion at the 2023 D-I College Championships. Photo: William “Brody” Brotman – UltiPhotos.com

Tournament Preview

If You Come at the King…You best Not Miss

Smoky Mountain Invite will be many teams’ first opportunity to take a shot at the three-time reigning national champions, #1 UNC Darkside. Not unlike The Wire‘s Omar Little, Darkside made relatively easy work of their opponents in their last two tournaments, Carolina Kickoff and Queen City Tune Up. SMI will be a different story. With eight of the top ten teams in the country in attendance, Darkside will have a target the size of a UFA pitch on their backs. Every team present no doubt wants to take a bite out of the big dog, but perhaps none more than last years national runners-up, #4 UMass Zoodisc. Should the frisbee gods decide to smile upon us, we could be treated to a rematch of last year’s national final – and last year’s SMI final, when Zoodisc beat Darkside – in Knoxville.

Zoodisc certainly aren’t the only ones aiming high: #3 Georgia Jojah, #5 Colorado Mamabird, and #6 Brown Brownian Motion all played at a Darkside-ish level in their season debuts. #6 Carleton CUT and #8 Minnesota Grey Duck haven’t been far off the mark either. Let’s see if any of them pass the test.

The Curse of Smoky Saturday

If you have followed college ultimate in the past few years, then you no doubt are aware of what happens to a certain team every year at Smoky Mountain Invite. For those unaware, allow me to educate you. In the last three editions of SMI, Jojah have gone just 1-11 on Saturdays, and that single win was in 2020. With a tournament record like that, whether it be a ghost, specter, or phantom, whatever you want to call it – there is something going on in the Smokies.

When asked if he believed in the curse, Sam Batson, one of Georgia’s head coaches replied, “No, we don’t think there’s a curse – as a rule we try not to shift blame, even onto the supernatural.” Sure, Sam. We believe you, and it isn’t weird at all that you smell like burnt sage and palo santo.

Curse or not, with past performances looming, something must change, right? “The Jojah boys have been putting more emphasis on living and playing in the moment,” said Batson. “We are generally just more invested in building trust in each other and having fun, but to say we’re doing anything specifically because we had bad tournaments in years past – no, not at all.”

High Stakes: Bids and Connectivity

Smoky Mountain Invite is always a good thermometer for the teams in attendance. The field is very challenging, wind is often a relevant factor, and it’s roughly midway through everyone’s regular season. Teams whose first tournaments did not go the way they wanted will look to use SMI as an inflection point in the season to right the ship before the series. #10 Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur and #12 Vermont Team Chill, both of whom missed the top bracket at Florida Warm Up, will have a great opportunity to tweak their seasons and start building some serious momentum.

And three western teams, #15 Cal Ursa Major, #23 UCLA Smaug, and Utah State Scotsmen, will be making the long haul to the Smokies this year to test their mettle against the eastern powerhouses. It is always exciting to see these transcontinental matchups, and it’s useful for measuring the relative strengths of two groups of teams who have been largely separated until now. More importantly, all three need to do some serious make up work after disappointing PresDay results to make sure they keep the bids in their half of the country.

  1. Matt Fazzalaro
    Matt Fazzalaro

    Matt began playing ultimate in 2017 at Lambert High school in Forsyth County, Georgia. In his college career he played one year with the Samford Dogma and three years with the Georgia Jojah. Matt cites the Athens, GA ultimate community as the best he has ever experienced and also fell in love with goalty there. Matt now lives, works, and plays ultimate in Atlanta, GA.

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